8 Turkish soldiers killed in clash with PKK, helicopter crash

Military says 6 die in clashes in Hakkari province, while 2 pilots perish as chopper sent in to support troops comes down

Illustrative photo of Turkish soldiers in southeastern Turkey, June 15, 2015 (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Illustrative photo of Turkish soldiers in southeastern Turkey, June 15, 2015 (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

ANKARA — Eight Turkish military personnel have died in clashes with Kurdish rebels and in a subsequent helicopter crash near the country’s border with Iraq, Turkey’s military said Friday. At least six rebels were also killed in the fighting.

Clashes broke out with rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, near the town of Cukurca, in Hakkari province, early on Friday, killing six soldiers, a military statement said. Eight other soldiers were wounded.

A military helicopter sent to the area to support the soldiers later crashed, killing its two pilots, the military said, adding that the crash was due to a technical fault.

Fighting between the PKK and the government forces picked up again in July when a more than two-year old peace process collapsed. Around 400 security force members have died since then.

The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its allies, has waged a three-decades-long insurgency against Turkey, in a bid to gain autonomy for Kurds in the southeast of the country. The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.

PKK-linked rebels have staged multiple bomb attacks against Turkish police and troops, which in turn have carried out tank-backed security operations in flashpoint areas.

On Thursday, four Kurdish rebels were killed while loading explosives onto a truck in the mainly Kurdish Diyarbakir province, hours after a separate blast targeting the military in Istanbul wounded eight.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

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